Administration

Meet our team of dedicated leaders, extraordinary educators and lovers of the arts.

Staff

PAUL ASHLEY
Executive Director

BENJAMIN BINGHAM
Operations Manager

NATALIE BONIFAY
Business Manager

MEGHAN BLAKEMAN
Development & Community Engagement Manager

JULIE CLARKE
Education Program Manager

MARISOL DEMONTE
Education Program Manager

MATT FREEMAN
Education Director

EMILY GNAGEY
Director of Finance & Operations

ERIK KEARNEY
Education Program Manager

JEFF PALMERE
Program Director, Extended Learning Time @ AMS

MARISSA PORTO
Director of Theatre Programs

NICOLE SCANDIFFIO
Associate Education Director, Afterschool Programs

LAURA LEE WILLIAMS
Associate Education Director, In-School Programs

Board of Directors

Board Chair

Caroline Abramo

Secretary

Diana Davitadze

Gary Bernstein

Tracey Duffy

Deborah Novick

Cheryl Vollweiler

Gary Bernstein

Tracey Duffy

Deborah Novick

Cheryl Vollweiler

Advisory Board

Gregory Arata

Rebecca Ashley

Jessica Bashline

Seth Duerr

Pamela Frost

Stephen Girasuolo

Kim Grogg Marin

Jerry Korman

Michael Kushner

Amy Lehman

Gavin Lodge

David Marx

Donna Murphy

Brooke Rogers

Vern Thiessen

Inna White

Scott Wilcox

Dawn Williams

Gregory Arata

Rebecca Ashley

Jessica Bashline

Seth Duerr

Pamela Frost

Stephen Girasuolo

Kim Grogg Marin

Jerry Korman

Michael Kushner

Amy Lehman

Gavin Lodge

David Marx

Donna Murphy

Brooke Rogers

Vern Thiessen

Inna White

Scott Wilcox

Dawn Williams

Photo Credit to Vanessa Rosas Photography

PAUL ASHLEY
Executive Director

Paul Ashley has been a key member of Wingspan Arts’ growth as an arts education provider in the New York region since 2004. In his time with Wingspan, he has been involved as a Teaching Artist, Site Director, Director of Afterschool Programs and Education Director. Paul holds a B.A. in Musical Theatre from the University of Northern Colorado. Stage credits include Crazy For You (National Tour), Forever Plaid, The Donkey Show and Fringe Festival award-winning a cappella musical, Minimum Wage: Blue Code Ringo! He has attended Columbia’s Institute for Not-For-Profit Management and Harvard’s Executive Education course in Performance Measurement.

“Art isn’t easy.” - Stephen Sondheim, Sunday in the Park with George

PAUL ASHLEY
Executive Director

Paul Ashley has been a key member of Wingspan Arts’ growth as an arts education provider in the New York region since 2004. In his time with Wingspan, he has been involved as a Teaching Artist, Site Director, Director of Afterschool Programs and Education Director. Paul holds a B.A. in Musical Theatre from the University of Northern Colorado. Stage credits include Crazy For You (National Tour), Forever Plaid, The Donkey Show and Fringe Festival award-winning a cappella musical, Minimum Wage: Blue Code Ringo! He has attended Columbia’s Institute for Not-For-Profit Management and Harvard’s Executive Education course in Performance Measurement.

“Art isn’t easy.” - Stephen Sondheim, Sunday in the Park with George

BENJAMIN BINGHAM
Operations Manager

Originally from Baltimore, Ben joined Wingspan in July, 2015. He brings extensive operational experience to our team, having previously managed operations across a number of different industries, including artisan bread-making and digital marketing. He lives in Harlem, is a diehard Arsenal fan and his favorite restaurant in the city is Cafe Habana. He is a practicing musician with a passion for creating opportunities for others to experience and create art.

"We don't read and write poetry because it's cute. We read and write poetry because we are members of the human race. And the human race is filled with passion. And medicine, law, business, engineering, these are noble pursuits and necessary to sustain life. But poetry, beauty, romance, love, these are what we stay alive for." - Robin Williams as John Keating (Dead Poet’s Society)

BENJAMIN BINGHAM
Operations Manager

Originally from Baltimore, Ben joined Wingspan in July, 2015. He brings extensive operational experience to our team, having previously managed operations across a number of different industries, including artisan bread-making and digital marketing. He lives in Harlem, is a diehard Arsenal fan and his favorite restaurant in the city is Cafe Habana. He is a practicing musician with a passion for creating opportunities for others to experience and create art.

"We don't read and write poetry because it's cute. We read and write poetry because we are members of the human race. And the human race is filled with passion. And medicine, law, business, engineering, these are noble pursuits and necessary to sustain life. But poetry, beauty, romance, love, these are what we stay alive for." - Robin Williams as John Keating (Dead Poet’s Society)

NATALIE BONIFAY
Business Manager

Natalie is the Business Manager at Wingspan Arts. She is new to NYC but not to arts education. Before Wingspan, Natalie worked as a dance educator and actress at local theaters around Birmingham, Alabama, such as The Birmingham Children's Theatre and The Virginia Samford Theatre. She also toured with the National Theatre for Children out of Minneapolis, Minnesota. Natalie also worked for three years as a Bookkeeper and office manager at a distribution company in Birmingham, called Astech. Natalie graduated with an MBA in Business Administration, BA in Business Finance, and a BFA in Musical Theater from the University of Montevallo in Alabama.

"Inside every performer is a beginner who fell in love." -Anonymous

NATALIE BONIFAY
Business Manager

Natalie is the Business Manager at Wingspan Arts. She is new to NYC but not to arts education. Before Wingspan, Natalie worked as a dance educator and actress at local theaters around Birmingham, Alabama, such as The Birmingham Children's Theatre and The Virginia Samford Theatre. She also toured with the National Theatre for Children out of Minneapolis, Minnesota. Natalie also worked for three years as a Bookkeeper and office manager at a distribution company in Birmingham, called Astech. Natalie graduated with an MBA in Business Administration, BA in Business Finance, and a BFA in Musical Theater from the University of Montevallo in Alabama.

"Inside every performer is a beginner who fell in love." -Anonymous

MEGHAN BLAKEMAN
Development & Community Engagement Manager

Meghan oversees all Development and Engagement operations, including grants and fundraising, special events, and digital media initiatives. Meghan has proudly been with Wingspan for many years, previously serving on the Education team as a Site Director, Teaching Artist, and then a Program Manager. Meghan attended the University of New Hampshire where she received her B.A. in Theatre (Secondary Theatre Education and Acting). She has always prioritized arts learning, spending 10+ years as an educator before stepping into this Development role. She also successfully operated a classical theatre company for 6 years, and steps on stage whenever given the opportunity. Meghan is looking forward to engaging the Wingspan Arts community.

“If you can dance and be free and not embarrassed you can rule the world.” - Amy Poehler, Yes Please

MEGHAN BLAKEMAN
Development & Community Engagement Manager

Meghan oversees all Development and Engagement operations, including grants and fundraising, special events, and digital media initiatives. Meghan has proudly been with Wingspan for many years, previously serving on the Education team as a Site Director, Teaching Artist, and then a Program Manager. Meghan attended the University of New Hampshire where she received her B.A. in Theatre (Secondary Theatre Education and Acting). She has always prioritized arts learning, spending 10+ years as an educator before stepping into this Development role. She also successfully operated a classical theatre company for 6 years, and steps on stage whenever given the opportunity. Meghan is looking forward to engaging the Wingspan Arts community.

“If you can dance and be free and not embarrassed you can rule the world.” - Amy Poehler, Yes Please

JULIE CLARKE
Education Program Manager

Julie joins Wingspan as a Program Manager after spending one year as a Site Director at PS 340. Before coming to Wingspan Julie worked as a classroom educator and has taught theatre in schools/ after school and camp programs. Back in Massachusetts Julie taught middle and elementary school both in theatre and special education. She holds a BA from Hofstra University in Theatre Arts and Speech Communication and an MA from Emerson College in Theatre Education. Julie's experience in theatre varies from acting, directing, and stage managing she especially enjoys playmaking with elementary and middle school youth!

“You're off to great places! Today is your day! Your mountain is waiting, so... get on your way!” -Dr. Seuss

JULIE CLARKE
Education Program Manager

Julie joins Wingspan as a Program Manager after spending one year as a Site Director at PS 340. Before coming to Wingspan Julie worked as a classroom educator and has taught theatre in schools/ after school and camp programs. Back in Massachusetts Julie taught middle and elementary school both in theatre and special education. She holds a BA from Hofstra University in Theatre Arts and Speech Communication and an MA from Emerson College in Theatre Education. Julie's experience in theatre varies from acting, directing, and stage managing she especially enjoys playmaking with elementary and middle school youth!

“You're off to great places! Today is your day! Your mountain is waiting, so... get on your way!” -Dr. Seuss

MARISOL DEMONTE
Education Program Manager

Marisol Demonte joins the Wingspan team after 3 years as a Site Director at Club 281. She is an abstract artist, activist, and youth advocate based in Brooklyn, NY. Through out her experience in youth advocacy she has implemented theater curriculums to homeless youth in East NY and in collaboration curated a community mural initiative in Bedford- Stuyvesant, NY. Her love of the arts, children and community has been the inspiration for her first children's book.

"Through the strokes of a brush, I paint a picture of possibility, joy and love that creates space of imagination where children can be their vibrant selves" - AbstractMarisoul

MARISOL DEMONTE
Education Program Manager

Marisol Demonte joins the Wingspan team after 3 years as a Site Director at Club 281. She is an abstract artist, activist, and youth advocate based in Brooklyn, NY. Through out her experience in youth advocacy she has implemented theater curriculums to homeless youth in East NY and in collaboration curated a community mural initiative in Bedford- Stuyvesant, NY. Her love of the arts, children and community has been the inspiration for her first children's book.

"Through the strokes of a brush, I paint a picture of possibility, joy and love that creates space of imagination where children can be their vibrant selves" - AbstractMarisoul

MATT FREEMAN
Education Director

Matt Freeman has worked with Wingspan Arts since August 2016. Previously he worked with organizations such as Tectonic Theater Project (inaugural Education Director), Brooklyn Academy of Music, The New Victory Theater, New York Cares, The New York City Arts-in-Education Roundtable and The CUNY School of Professional Studies (CUNY SPS), where he served as the first Assistant Director of its M.A. in Applied Theatre. Matt holds a B.A. in Theater and Arts Administration from Muhlenberg College, an M.A. in Arts Administration from Teachers College at Columbia University and an M.A. in Applied Theatre from CUNY SPS.

"Stop worrying where you're going, move on. If you can know where you're going, you've gone. Just keep moving on." Stephen Sondheim, Sunday in the Park with George

MATT FREEMAN
Education Director

Matt Freeman has worked with Wingspan Arts since August 2016. Previously he worked with organizations such as Tectonic Theater Project (inaugural Education Director), Brooklyn Academy of Music, The New Victory Theater, New York Cares, The New York City Arts-in-Education Roundtable and The CUNY School of Professional Studies (CUNY SPS), where he served as the first Assistant Director of its M.A. in Applied Theatre. Matt holds a B.A. in Theater and Arts Administration from Muhlenberg College, an M.A. in Arts Administration from Teachers College at Columbia University and an M.A. in Applied Theatre from CUNY SPS.

"Stop worrying where you're going, move on. If you can know where you're going, you've gone. Just keep moving on." Stephen Sondheim, Sunday in the Park with George

EMILY GNAGEY
Director of Finance & Operations

Emily oversees our financial and operational management. Since joining the Wingspan team in 2009, Emily’s experience in developing and implementing business management strategies has proven instrumental for our growth. Before joining Wingspan, Emily founded Ever After Productions, a youth theater company in southeastern Michigan that has been making integrated arts education available to the community since 2003. Emily holds a B.A. in Arts Management from Eastern Michigan University and graduated from the Americans for the Arts Arts Leadership Institute in 2012.

“Art washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life.” - Pablo Picasso

EMILY GNAGEY
Director of Finance & Operations

Emily oversees our financial and operational management. Since joining the Wingspan team in 2009, Emily’s experience in developing and implementing business management strategies has proven instrumental for our growth. Before joining Wingspan, Emily founded Ever After Productions, a youth theater company in southeastern Michigan that has been making integrated arts education available to the community since 2003. Emily holds a B.A. in Arts Management from Eastern Michigan University and graduated from the Americans for the Arts Arts Leadership Institute in 2012.

“Art washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life.” - Pablo Picasso

ERIK KEARNEY
Education Program Manager

Erik Kearney earned his BS in Theatre Education from Illinois State University. Originally from Chicago, he spent many years in the classroom as a Chicago Public School theatre teacher crafting K-12 arts programs and directing numerous shows for young audiences. He is excited to join the team at Wingspan Arts as an Education Program Manager. Erik believes that the arts have the ability to shape young minds, empowering them to be gatekeepers of their own story.

"Art, in itself, is an attempt to bring order out of chaos.” - Stephen Sondheim

ERIK KEARNEY
Education Program Manager

Erik Kearney earned his BS in Theatre Education from Illinois State University. Originally from Chicago, he spent many years in the classroom as a Chicago Public School theatre teacher crafting K-12 arts programs and directing numerous shows for young audiences. He is excited to join the team at Wingspan Arts as an Education Program Manager. Erik believes that the arts have the ability to shape young minds, empowering them to be gatekeepers of their own story.

"Art, in itself, is an attempt to bring order out of chaos.” - Stephen Sondheim

JEFF PALMERE
Program Director, Extended Learning Time @ AMS

Jeff currently serves as the Program Director for the Extending Learning Time program at the Urban Assembly for Math and Sciences. Prior to this position, Jeff was a Site Director in our afterschool programs for 2 years. He holds a B.A. Political Science from the University at Albany. Jeff has been a Stepper and Choreographer for the past 13 Years, and he created the Organized C.H.A.O.S. Step Team.

"Experiencing art is like experiencing rain. It's not as fun when it's only drizzling. You look for the downpour, because that's where you find happiness." - Jeff Palmere

JEFF PALMERE
Program Director, Extended Learning Time @ AMS

Jeff currently serves as the Program Director for the Extending Learning Time program at the Urban Assembly for Math and Sciences. Prior to this position, Jeff was a Site Director in our afterschool programs for 2 years. He holds a B.A. Political Science from the University at Albany. Jeff has been a Stepper and Choreographer for the past 13 Years, and he created the Organized C.H.A.O.S. Step Team.

"Experiencing art is like experiencing rain. It's not as fun when it's only drizzling. You look for the downpour, because that's where you find happiness." - Jeff Palmere

MARISSA PORTO
Director of Theatre Programs

Marissa holds a B.S. in Theatre from Skidmore College and a M.Ed. in Educational Theatre from The City College of New York. She began her career in theater as a performer, which she still does on occasion. Her favorite roles include Alice in The Drowning Girls, Pennywise in Urinetown, and Karen in American Notes. Right after graduating from Skidmore in 2006, she moved back to NY to pursue a career in theater. She was mostly just waiting tables, however, and was getting frustrated that her life did not include any creative outlet so she looked for an internship that would provide her something more fulfilling. She found a listing for an internship at a place called Wingspan Arts, applied, and was hired. Within months, she was a full-time employee and realized that her career needed to be in arts education. In her time at Wingspan Arts she has been a Payroll Administrator, a Site Director (PS183), Conservatory Associate, Associate Artistic Director, and finally Director of Theatre Programs! Marissa has directed over 15 productions with Wingspan Arts and is looking forward to many more. Wingspan Arts has truly become Marissa's second home and has been integral in her career and personal growth.

“Creativity is contagious, pass it on” – Albert Einstein

MARISSA PORTO
Director of Theatre Programs

Marissa holds a B.S. in Theatre from Skidmore College and a M.Ed. in Educational Theatre from The City College of New York. She began her career in theater as a performer, which she still does on occasion. Her favorite roles include Alice in The Drowning Girls, Pennywise in Urinetown, and Karen in American Notes. Right after graduating from Skidmore in 2006, she moved back to NY to pursue a career in theater. She was mostly just waiting tables, however, and was getting frustrated that her life did not include any creative outlet so she looked for an internship that would provide her something more fulfilling. She found a listing for an internship at a place called Wingspan Arts, applied, and was hired. Within months, she was a full-time employee and realized that her career needed to be in arts education. In her time at Wingspan Arts she has been a Payroll Administrator, a Site Director (PS183), Conservatory Associate, Associate Artistic Director, and finally Director of Theatre Programs! Marissa has directed over 15 productions with Wingspan Arts and is looking forward to many more. Wingspan Arts has truly become Marissa's second home and has been integral in her career and personal growth.

“Creativity is contagious, pass it on” – Albert Einstein

NICOLE SCANDIFFIO
Associate Education Director, Afterschool Programs

Nicole joined the Wingspan Family in 2009 and has since worked as a Teaching Artist, Site Director, and is currently the Associate Education Director for Afterschool Programs. She also works with Wingspan Arts as the Assistant Director of the Summer Conservatory program. Before her time with Wingspan Arts, Nicole graduated from Montclair State University with a B.A. in Theatre Studies, was a Stage Manager and Pre-school teacher. Outside of Wingspan Arts, Nicole is an avid Disney and Harry Potter nerd, and spends her time crafting, cosplaying and hanging out with her cat.

"Think of the happiest things, it's the same as having wings." - Peter Pan

NICOLE SCANDIFFIO
Associate Education Director, Afterschool Programs

Nicole joined the Wingspan Family in 2009 and has since worked as a Teaching Artist, Site Director, and is currently the Associate Education Director for Afterschool Programs. She also works with Wingspan Arts as the Assistant Director of the Summer Conservatory program. Before her time with Wingspan Arts, Nicole graduated from Montclair State University with a B.A. in Theatre Studies, was a Stage Manager and Pre-school teacher. Outside of Wingspan Arts, Nicole is an avid Disney and Harry Potter nerd, and spends her time crafting, cosplaying and hanging out with her cat.

"Think of the happiest things, it's the same as having wings." - Peter Pan

LAURA LEE WILLIAMS
Associate Education Director, In-School Programs

Laura has been on the Wingspan Arts Education Team since 2010. In her current position, she oversees Wingspan Arts’ In-school Programs and serves as the primary liaison for school partners. Laura also works with the Wingspan Arts’ in-school teaching artist roster to ensure quality arts instruction and curriculum design, as well as positive student engagement and inclusive teaching practices. With a background in theatre and music performance, Laura began her career in arts education as a teaching artist in New York City. Working with several arts and community-based organizations, Laura focused on creating original work through process drama with elementary school students. She also facilitated ELA, Social Studies, and SEL Theatre Arts integration programs. Laura's outreach work includes developing teaching artist training and professional development seminars for artist educators. Laura holds a BA in Performing Arts from Iowa State University, an MA in Educational Theatre from The Steinhardt School of Education at New York University, and has completed the TATI (Teaching Artist Training Internship) program through Marquis Studios, focused on best practices for teaching the arts to children on the Autism Spectrum. Laura and her husband, Brian, reside in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, with their two little boys, Lee and Curtis...and a cat named Lucy.

"Today you are you! That is truer than true! There is no one alive who is you-er than you!" - Dr. Seuss

LAURA LEE WILLIAMS
Associate Education Director, In-School Programs

Laura has been on the Wingspan Arts Education Team since 2010. In her current position, she oversees Wingspan Arts’ In-school Programs and serves as the primary liaison for school partners. Laura also works with the Wingspan Arts’ in-school teaching artist roster to ensure quality arts instruction and curriculum design, as well as positive student engagement and inclusive teaching practices. With a background in theatre and music performance, Laura began her career in arts education as a teaching artist in New York City. Working with several arts and community-based organizations, Laura focused on creating original work through process drama with elementary school students. She also facilitated ELA, Social Studies, and SEL Theatre Arts integration programs. Laura's outreach work includes developing teaching artist training and professional development seminars for artist educators. Laura holds a BA in Performing Arts from Iowa State University, an MA in Educational Theatre from The Steinhardt School of Education at New York University, and has completed the TATI (Teaching Artist Training Internship) program through Marquis Studios, focused on best practices for teaching the arts to children on the Autism Spectrum. Laura and her husband, Brian, reside in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, with their two little boys, Lee and Curtis...and a cat named Lucy.

"Today you are you! That is truer than true! There is no one alive who is you-er than you!" - Dr. Seuss